RAWALPINDI, May 17: Samina Naz, a housemaid, on Friday lost her job due to the prolonged electricity loadshedding in the garrison city.
The 30-year-old was told by her employer not to come to work from tomorrow. The reason: for the last few days she was arriving at the house very late - by 12 noon. “I have to fetch water from a nearby tubewell as due to the massive loadshedding Dhoke Hassu, where I live, is without water. At the tubewell, there is always a long queue of people due to which I am unable to arrive at my workplace on time,” she said.
But her employer refused to buy the excuse. “We are also suffering from power outages and it is becoming difficult to wash clothes and the house without water. The water motors cannot run without electricity. We have only one hour from 10am to 11am to complete the household chores and at that time the maid is not available,” said Mrs Tariq Malik, the owner of the house where Samina worked.
The housemaid tried to get work in the same locality but most of the people asked her to come when there is electricity available.
“The new government should resolve the electricity crisis otherwise it will be difficult for the poor to eke out a living and run their household budgets,” she said.
Samina is among thousands of people suffering from the massive electricity loadshedding in the garrison city, especially after the start of the summer season.
But on Thursday and Friday, the residents suffered a lot after the May 11 elections when the Islamabad Electricity Supply Company (Iesco) conducted loadshedding for four hours after a break of every half an hour.
As the mercury touched 40 degrees Celsius, unavailability of electricity added to the miseries of the residents.
The loadshedding duration in the residential areas has increased to 18 hours daily whereas in the commercial areas it is only eight hours.
The most affected localities were Pirwadhai, Allahabad, Chur Chowk, Westridge, Dhoke Hassu, Dhoke Mangtal, railway colonies, Dhoke Ratta, Yousuf Colony, Chaklala, Defence Housing Scheme-II, Asghar Mall and Sadiqabad.
On the other hand, in Saddar, Tench Bhatta, Peshawar Road, Raja Bazaar, Moti Bazaar, Commercial Market in Satellite Town and Chaklala Scheme-III, there is eight hours loadshedding.
“Iesco’s priority is to supply electricity to businessmen as they launch protests against the company. It is difficult for the citizens to protest against the unequal distribution of electricity,” said Mohammad Farooq, a resident of Westridge.
“We are paying Rs3,000 monthly bill despite the low consumption of electricity. It disturbed our household budgets,” he said.
Saqib Raja, a resident of Pirwadhai, said his area suffered outages from 12 night to 2am, 3am to 5am, 6am to 8am, 9am to 11:30am, 12:30pm to 4:30pm, 6pm to 9pm 10pm to 11pm. When the consumers approached Iesco complaint centre, they were told that it was forced loadshedding conducted by Pepco.
Anisur Rehman, a resident of Dhoke Ratta, said the people were already suffering a lot due to wrong policies of the government and the ongoing loadshedding. He said the new government would have to improve things otherwise it would also face the fate similar to the PPP government.
When contacted, Farmanullah Khan, the Iesco chief engineer, said there was a gap between supply and demand. “There’s an electricity shortfall of 600 megawatts per day in Rawalpindi alone, which has forced us to go for the unscheduled power cuts.”
Our Correspondent from Attock adds: The prolonged power outages have hit the citizens hard but the worst sufferers are students appearing in their intermediate examinations.
On Friday, the city saw power breakdown from 6am to 3pm. Just after one and half hour, there was again a breakdown.
Thousands of students appearing in the exams solved their papers without electricity from 9am to 12 noon in the severe humid and sultry weather. Even when they returned home, there was no light.
The board of intermediate and secondary education had charged the students heavy examination fees but it did not arrange any generator at the exam centres.
The prolonged outages, sometimes extending to 20 hours a day, have made the lives of the citizens miserable.
Some of the residents, including Fazal Karim, Malik Ayub and Fawad Khan, said the energy crisis had crippled the routine life.
As electricity is available only two hours in day and two hours in night time, the miseries of the citizens are aggravating.
Because of the power outages, the citizens are also facing severe water shortage.
When Iesco officials here were contacted, they passed the buck to the load management control centre in Islamabad.